Some feel that the hardware won’t see the light of day until the the latter half of this year, which would put it in line to be unleashed at the same time as Apple typical launches new iPhone hardware –just in time for the holidays. Other pundits and online rumour mongers are convinced that Apple needs to release the hardware sooner rather than later to keep other companies from eating up their potential share of the wearable marketplace. My opinion, if anything about the watch is revealed, it’ll be minimal, and likely only referenced for the sake of Apple’s development partners.
But man, would I ever love to be wrong about that.
Do you own an iOS device? Want to control your home from your couch, on the drive home or while you’re still schlepping away at the office? According to a recent report from the Financial Times, Apple’s ripe (sorry) to announce hardware interface standards for controlling elements like your home’s security system, lighting, coffee maker or temperature from your iPhone or iPad.
One version of how this could work is for Apple to build controls standards directly into their devices and then, license the right to interface with these standards to home appliance manufacturers. From a business standpoint, this could make a whole lot of sense: by providing hardware manufactures with an interface standard that would allow them to create iOS controllable household fixtures and appliances. Apple stands to stymy Google, which surged into the home automation market with its recent purchase of Web-connected thermostat and smoke detector maker Nest.
And then there’s the less exciting possibility recently outlined by Gigaom. According to an anonymous source, Apple’s home automation solution may not have anything to do with a unified standard at all. Instead, it would focus on a control system for home automation compatible hardware via an app interface and voice control via bluetooth and WiFi. Again, this is smart business. By going this route, Apple could create a whole new revenue stream through the licensing of a whole new class of MFi hardware designed to work with their tablets and smartphones.
I’d rather see the former than the latter: a single, hardware and software-based Apple-branded solution designed to “just work” would make home automation more accessible than the fragmented, multi-standard mess that we’re stuck with today. Whether or not Apple provides us with a glimpse of this technology at WWDC, or if it exists at all, is an open question.
Until you see hardware on stage in Tim Cook’s hand it’s best to take any iPhone rumours with a significant amount of salt. That said, the trend in smartphones for the last few years has been towards larger handsets with expansive displays that are ideal for media consumption and gaming. Currently, there are rumblings that in addition to the plus-sized phablet that could come packing a display up to 5.5” in size, the iPhone 6 could also come with a larger display than we’ve seen with Apple’s past handsets.
Previewing a new mobile device that boasts a new display size at WWDC makes sense: developers will need time to adjust their existing software applications to take advantage of the new hardware’s larger display and internal specifications. But don’t expect any hardware announced next week to be available in the near future. It’s one thing to let developers in on what’s coming down the pike so that they can code accordingly. It’s quite another to manufacture the parts required to bring a new product to market. The earliest we might have the chance to get our hands on the iPhone 6 or a gigantic sibling will most likely be this fall.
Retina MacBook Air
File this one under “Maybe.” When you consider the fact that Apple updated the MacBook Air line with a new chipset this spring, it seems unlikely that it would buff up its ultra-thin line of laptops again so soon. It makes sense to show off a smartphone with a new display size to developers: they need lead up time to get their act together. Apps need to be tinkered with to operate on off-sized displays.